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  1. Elsewhere
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  4. A Few Discoveries
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  10. The Frenchwoman Revisited

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Our Last 50 Referrers

Friday, February 15, 2008

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Wardrobe malfunction? This little Japanese item is nothing but. (NSFW) * Ward Six comes up with a hilarious list of crime-novel cliches. * Manuel Uribe, who was once the world's heaviest man, has lost more than 500 pounds in the last two years on a low-carb diet. * Alias Clio ponders the latest from British crime-fiction genius Ruth Rendell, and links to a couple of torch songs. Why am I not surprised that Clio loves torch songs? * Yummy or Yucky? tucks into some real Kobe beef. * Matt Mullenix stirs up his first gumbo. * Thursday watches "Juno" and makes a nice distinction between "Blanche characters" and "Stanley characters." I have no desire to see "Juno" myself, but for those in the mood for something quirky with an abortion angle I can recommend another very amusing movie: Alexander ("Sideways") Payne's first feature, "Citizen Ruth," starring Laura Dern at her daffy, flushed, over-impassioned funniest. I also loved "Sideways" and wrote about it here. Lots of visitors had a good time telling me I was wrong, wrong, wrong ... * The Rawness has cooked up a plausible Theory of Charisma: Part One, Part Two. * JV links to some trippy eye-candy. * Brenda Walker is convinced that multiculturalism is bad for women. * Scott Chaffin thinks that people should stop swooning at political speeches. * MBlowhard Rewind: I tackled one of the big ones -- how to handle yourself around that loaded word "art." Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 15, 2008 | perma-link | (2) comments

Whitepeople Funk
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- In recognition of Stuff White People Like Day, let me offer a little YouTube-ishness: Does it make me hyper-white to admit that I find "Play That Funky Music, White Boy" genuinely funky? Read about Wild Cherry, who never did score another hit. Bandleader Rob Parissi tells the story of his one-hit band here. Fun to learn that the band originated in Mingo Junction, Ohio. As I often say: America, land of the greatest place-names ever. Tapping my lily-white toesies happily, Michael UPDATE: My favorite response to the White People blog came from Brooklyn dude The Rawness, writing at Roissy's place: I think sarcasm should go under annoying stuff white people like. White people today think sarcasm, which is just really passive aggressive behavior for wimps who want to insult someone but wants the option of being able to pretend they were joking just in case the offended person wants to fight. White people reward sarcasm to ridiculous degrees. Even their comedy…Colbert Show and Daily Show are nothing but two guy being sarcastic…that is, just saying the opposite of what they really mean in a smug, condescending way…and they get hailed with words like “genius” “powerful” “thought provoking,” “speaking truth to power” “provocative”…’s FUCKING SARCASM. My 13 year old niece and her friends do it all day. It’s not a sign of comedic genius, and it’s really unattractive on fey, liberal, middle aged white men. Eat some red meat and grow some balls. The Rawness ain't no colorfree metrosexual, that's for sure.... posted by Michael at February 15, 2008 | perma-link | (7) comments

Paul Avril
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Why didn't our college art-history profs tell us anything about Paul Avril? (NSFW.) I bet a lot more boys would develop an interest in the arts if only their teachers would introduce them to artists like Paul Avril. Here are some of Avril's illustrations for "Fanny Hill." Gotta love the strictness of his neoclassicism. Thwack! Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 15, 2008 | perma-link | (4) comments

A Few Discoveries
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Dark Party Review. Here's a cultureblog that's a rowdy joy -- an exuberant and enthusiastic publication full of mischief, zest, and brains. Who says that sophistication and showbiz, refinement and lust, can't boogaloo together? Read about Edith Wharton's "A Journey," then joyride your way through a collection of bad music videos from the 1980s. GFS3's "How to Be an Office Drone" made me laugh out loud. One funny passage: Skills to attending long meetings are the abilities to: fart quietly, disguise growling stomachs with coughing, pounce on food first to avoid soggy sandwiches, and to leave the meeting with absolutely no work. * The Philosopher's Zone. I've found Alan Saunders' radio show / podcast about philosophical topics very enjoyable. It's high-end yet accessible -- first-class intellectual entertainment. Saunders -- trained in philosophy himself but also a gifted, calm, and helpful interviewer -- brings on learned guests (mostly Australian) to discuss such topics as love, social justice, science, and the mind. I confess that I've never been entirely convinced that there's a point to Western philosophy; as fascinating and impressive as it can be, I often find myself wondering if it isn't just a weird and useless activity that a certain kind of person enjoys doing. But the mental- housecleaning aspect of it does have some appeal for me, especially when it's conducted in plain English. That's what Saunders specializes in doing. I wrote back here about how much I admire a good interviewer, and back here about Stephen Toulmin, one of the handful of Western philosophers whose work I really do love. * Stuff White People Like. A commenter at Steve Sailer's blog linked to this droll, deadpan, near-Onion-quality blog about things that the upscale paler-of-hue tend to go for. Do you enjoy expensive sandwiches? And Sunday breakfasts? How about dogs? And old stuff? And Apple products? Do you have a tendency to make unnecessary apologies? Were you an arts major? I'm guilty on all of those counts myself. Always fun to discover that you're a stereotype -- at least it is if you're a White Person. White People actually like stereotypes. (Hey, that's something that I just came up with.) Typical passage: It is a poorly guarded secret that, deep down, white people believe if given money and education all poor people would be EXACTLY like them. In fact, the only reason that poor people make the choices they do is because they have not been given the means to make the right choices and care about the right things. And a hilarious line in a posting about White People's love of natural medicine: "It’s weird that there are some white people who won’t take aspirin, but will take Ecstasy, Cocaine, Xanax and Vicodin." This posting about Film Festivals is a hoot too. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 15, 2008 | perma-link | (15) comments

Friedrich von Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards: I just came across a very funny short posting by Michael “Mish” Shedlock. The portions that caught my eye were as follows: The list of those wanting a government bailout and/or bigger bailout than they have received so far keeps growing...Ambac (ABK) and MBIA (MBI) are both pleading for bailouts...MBIA wants cash, Ambac is blaming the rating agencies and wants guarantees of an AAA rating it does not deserve...The banking community is also looking for handouts, straight from taxpayers...Let's call it for what it is: A request for taxpayer funds to bail out lenders making stupid loan decisions...The national Association of Homebuilders recently announced that they have stopped all Congressional bribes…Obviously the NAHB was expecting a bigger bailout than it has seen so far for the bribes it has paid out. That first sentence made me laugh out loud. (Okay, so I'm easily amused.) This got me thinking that the term "bailout" (and all it signifies, including earlier ill-advised risk taking) is pretty much the meat of the problem of our contemporary political and economic life. This whole syndrome has been described by Martin Wolf, chief economic columnist of the Financial Times, and others as “privatizing the gains [of the economy] and socializing the losses.” If this seems unfair, just remind yourself how much money the credit insurers like Ambac and MBIA, the bankers, and the homebuilders have been making over the past decade or so, and notice how they respond to adversity caused chiefly by their own piggish greed and stupidity. (The little economic crisis we're going through has one major upside: it's a golden opportunity to see how things really work in contemporary America. The situation has gotten so screwed up right now that the government, a relatively slow moving and stupid beast, can’t keep up with all the requests to socialize losses in real time. A year or two ago when everything seemed right with the world all this was much less visible.) Why are we in this situation? Well, it’s more or less inevitable as a result of our political-economic system, which I would describe as "democratic Fascism." Sorry to use the F-word right out in the open like that, but it’s the correct one, at least according to the rubric they taught me in junior high school: "Fascism is public control and private ownership." (You know, in the sense that "Capitalism is private control and private ownership" and "Socialism is public control and public ownership.") The widely repeated notion that the U.S. is a capitalist country is hard to understand, when you consider the extent to which government controls all the commanding heights of the economy, certainly including Wall Street. (Note how much of the business press actually covers the activities of one level or another of government.) But that just pushes the issue up a level. The obvious follow-up question, although oddly obscured most of the time by people on both the left and the right, is "So... posted by Friedrich at February 15, 2008 | perma-link | (8) comments

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Linkage by Charlton
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- I notice that Charlton Griffin's recent audio production of "The Lady of the Camellias" (the source for "Camille") got a rave ("flawless") in the Boston Globe from the excellent Rochelle O'Gorman. Charlton, an enthusiastic websurfer, has sent in some terrific linkage: * Here's how to sell an unpromising movie with some creative trailer-editing. * Have you ever watched a musical-waterglass virtuoso at work? * Amanda Coggin lists the ten movies that get her hottest. "Chocolat"? Oh, right: It's a chick's list. * Many fascinating facts about lightning, as well as lots of fantastic photos. * This certainly puts it all in perspective. * Screw alphabetical order; the hell with the Dewey Decimal System. The design-savvy person lines up his books according to color. * Charlton has been getting fascinated by the late Henry Darger, a Chicago janitor whose creepy visuals of an imaginative world populated by sexy young girls has made him a star of the "outsider art" world. A novel that Darger wrote appears to be one of the longest ever written. Has anyone ever read the whole thing? * In 2009, Beijing will complete a 682-foot high Ferris wheel. * Reasonably-priced pocketcams are now showing up that can also take HD videoclips. * Charlton offers this a propos election-year joke: Electile Dysfunction. Def: The inability to become aroused over any of the leading choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year. * Here are some great visuals that allow us to compare the tallest buildings as of the 19th century with the tallest buildings of today: Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 14, 2008 | perma-link | (4) comments

Lit-fict and Popular Fiction
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- In a posting about the film "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," the Western novelist Richard S. Wheeler gets off a great passage: "The novel of the same title, by Ron Hansen, dazzled readers, but the dazzle lay in the glittering word choices of the author rather than in the storyline or characterization," he writes. The Hansen novel, in other words, was of the "literary fiction" genre, not the "Western fiction" one. That sentence of Richard's says a lot more that's of practical use to readers than most of what you'll read in fancy magazines by big-name critics, IMHO. So far as literary fiction goes, I'd add to Richard's characterization of it a concern with trendy themes, and with fashionable writing strategies generally. But Richard's larger point is the key one: Literary fiction is generally concerned with writerly grandstanding, er, showing-off, er, prowess. The writer, finally, is the real show. Narrative fiction (which in the U.S. these days means genre fiction) is generally more concerned with suspense, involvement, and situations. The story and the characters -- and not the author -- are what the spotlight is trained on. (Which isn't to say, of course, that some lit-fict writers haven't created living-breathing characters, or that some narrative-fiction writers -- Richard S. Wheeler among them -- don't also deliver a great deal in the way of writerly pleasure.) In other words: If you like the emphasis in the fiction you read to fall on character, hook, situations, and story, then literary fiction probably isn't for you. 99% of the time, that's simply not what the lit-fict set is up to; it isn't the package they're selling. Instead, they're generally selling tone, themes, strategies -- striking and/or brilliant "moves." On the other hand, if character-creation and story-engineering don't speak to you while writerly games-playing does, then why not choose your fiction-reading from the lit-fict shelves? Nothing wrong with that part of the bookstore either. I share the taste for fancy writin' myself, if very occasionally, only to some extent, and less with each passing year. Back here, in fact, I listed the lit-fict titles that I enjoyed most during my years of following the new-literary-fiction scene from up close. Give it a read. If nothing else, it isn't the usual best-of list. All of this is fine by me. I think it's great that options exist and that people have them to choose from; I'm always eager to hear about what people enjoy and to learn about what they know. No, it's something else that bugs me, namely: Why should the package of values that the lit-fict crowd prefers be considered to be superior to the popular-fiction package? What case can possibly be made that fussin'-with-the-writin' is automatically more important than attending to matters of character, suspense, story, situation, and entertainment? It's a pointless argument to make, no? As pointless as arguing that vegetables are automatically better than fruit, or that candy is... posted by Michael at February 14, 2008 | perma-link | (13) comments

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- I'm probably getting this all wrong. After all, I hardly watch television any more. And I wasn't particularly paying attention when Super Bowl ads came on. I was fixing dinner so that Nancy could watch the halftime show. Otherwise I was wandering back and forth to the room where the TV was. Despite the distractions, I thought I noticed something I hadn't seen before. It happened on some of those beer ads, as best I recall. For years now, such ads often have a bunch of guys hanging out, having a good time implicitly fueled by the sponsoring beverage. Way back when, they might have been all white. Then, for quite a few years it was white guys and some black guys. This year (and maybe earlier for all that TV-phobic je know), the white guys and black guys were joined by East Asian guys and what seemed to be guys from India! Not that there's anything wrong with this, mind you. I have nothing against a society that's truly color-blind from an opportunity standpoint. And when I was in the Army, the Some Of My Best Friends Are situation applied. Moreover, the sponsoring beer companies Have Their Hearts In The Right Place, wanting to Do The Right Thing and Fight For Social Justice. And yes, the scenes these commercials portray can be construed as an ideal situation towards which America is striving. But right now, I find them not quite believable. Where, in the real world, is one likely to find a bunch of white, black, East Asian and Indian guys hangin' out and swilling beer? The most plausible setting I can come up with would be a Friday afternoon decompression party at a Silicon Valley firm. Except there would be gals present as well. What we have seems to be a replay of those old World War 2 army movies where the platoon is filled with Iowa farm boys, an Italian guy from South Philly and a Jewish kid from Brooklyn. Except the movie had 90 minutes for character development and the ads only get 30 seconds. Now I'm wondering what race/ethnic groups will be added for next year's Super Bowl ad-athon. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at February 13, 2008 | perma-link | (12) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Douglas Campbell and Denis Dutton agree to disagree -- but not to stop arguing -- about climate change. * With the traditional media struggling, has the time come for government subsidies to newspapers? * Fred Hahn tells Jimmy Moore that people eager to get in shape should skip the aerobics and focus instead on weightlifting-done-slowly. * Charlie Anders investigates the fate of science fiction at The New Yorker. * Burlesque queen Jo Weldon interviews corset-designer Garo Sparo. * Terrierman offers a brief history of dog food. * The Kirk Center interviews James Kunstler. That article is part of a very enjoyable and interesting magazine issue. * Roissy wonders why it's the Japanese who are leading the robotics revolution. * Vince Keenan flips for Christa Faust's dirty-minded new crime novel. * Kevin Carson offers a funny dissent to the usual libertarian worship of the Green Revolution. * Graham Harvey wants to see (and eat) more pasture-fed beef. * Richard S. Wheeler reports that it wasn't the 1960s that introduced sex into popular music. * Badboy fashion photographer Terry Richardson takes Josie Maran to the farm. (NSFW.) * Learn about Wilhelm Deffke, one of the fathers of the modern logo. * Hibernia Girl notices that immigrants drag down wages. * What a surprise: Color photos of America from the 1930s and '40s. (Link thanks to Greg Ransom.) * John McWhorter wonders what's meant when one African-American is said to be "blacker" than another. * MBlowhard Rewind: I liked John McWhorter's lecture series about language for The Teaching Company very much, and blogged about it here. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 13, 2008 | perma-link | (4) comments

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Frenchwoman Revisited
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Arts & Letters Daily links to a good article by Pamela Druckerman about Frenchwomen, and about how they manage to be sexually vital and active creatures into their 50s, 60s, and (gadzooks!) even beyond. I find "the Frenchwoman" a source of fascination myself, and wrote a posting about the type here. A shrewd, informative, and blessedly fun-to-read book on the subject is Debra Ollivier's "Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl." It's a pop book, but it's, y'know, a really good pop book. Despite the pretentions of the lit crowd, such things do exist. Semi-related: I wrote about Catherine Millet's tres francais "The Sexual Life of Catherine M." as well as some other books about sex here. Here's a posting I wrote about the ultra-francais erotic classic "Story of O." Erotica fans, literature fans, and Frenchwoman fans shouldn't miss Toni Bentley's first-class essay about "Story of O." Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 12, 2008 | perma-link | (6) comments

Minor (League) Musings
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Fifty years after the cataclysm, it's baseball Spring Training time again. Cataclysm? I'll get to that. But first ... When I was a kid trying (and ultimately failing) to become a fan I got to watch the Angels and the San Diego Padres. No, not those Angels and Padres -- but the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. The Pacific Coast League (PCL) in my time was a near-major league, as the link above indicates. Its teams were the Seattle Rainiers (owned by the Rainier Brewery), Portland Beavers, San Francisco Seals, Oakland Acorns (who played in Emeryville), Sacramento Solons, Hollywood Stars, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. Back in the Thirties Ted Williams (Padres) and the DiMaggio brothers (Seals) were PCL standouts. Occasionally I'd be taken to a game. Otherwise I would listen to the radio broadcast. In Seattle, the announcer was a raspy-voiced gent named Leo Lassen who lived with his mother most of his life. We didn't know that detail at the time. Anyhow, Lassen had a distinctive style and his pet phrases, as most of the better-known announcers do. One of his was when there was a long-ball hit: "It's back, back, back ... and it's over!" -- over the fence. When the Rainiers were on the road, Lassen had to recreate a game from cryptic telegraph reports: no mean skill. Major league baseball was concentrated in the northeastern corner of the country where much of the nation's population also was concentrated. It extended from Boston (Red Sox and Braves) in the east to St. Louis (Cardinals and Browns) in the west. One reason for this geographical concentration was that teams had to travel by passenger train. If I remember correctly, teams played seven-game series over five or usually six days and traveled on Mondays. By rail, a long day's travel could get one from Boston to St. Louis or Chicago; the West Coast would be a three-day haul from Boston -- hence, no West Coast major league baseball. Besides Boston and St. Louis, cities with a team in each league were Chicago (White Sox and Cubs), Philadelphia (Phillies and Athletics) and New York (Yankees and Giants). New York also had the National League Brooklyn Dodgers who came into existence when Brooklyn was still an independent city and were never referred to as "New York Dodgers." One-team towns were Detroit (Tigers), Washington (Senators), Cleveland (Indians), Cincinnati (Reds) and Pittsburgh (Pirates). Like the West Coast, other parts of the country had to make do with minor league teams. This happy, traditional paradise was wrecked by the passenger airplane, which made coast-to-coast team travel practical. Propeller planes could cross the country a few hours faster than trains could get from Boston to St. Louis. Jets do it in six hours or so. And the cataclysm? That was when the traitorous New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers fled to San Francisco and Los Angeles and the world... posted by Donald at February 12, 2008 | perma-link | (7) comments

Nikos on Deletaille
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Barry Wood isn't the only person who has been listening to music and searching YouTube for music vids recently. Nikos Salingaros has been making some finds too. *** NICOLAS DELETAILLE, A GREAT YOUNG CELLIST FOR OUR TIMES By Nikos A. Salingaros Just as I was trying to decide which one of two recent recordings of the Bach Suites for unaccompanied cello to buy -- by Steven Isserlis (Britain) or by Jean-Guihen Queyras (France) -- out of the blue I discovered the brilliant young Belgian cellist Nicolas Deletaille. So, naturally I bought his recording (aussi parce que ma femme est belge)! Geographically, this choice makes perfect sense, since Belgium is half-way between Britain and France ... Deletaille records on the small Contréclisse label in Belgium. Doubtlessly, these are available in CD stores in Europe, but here in the US we are fortunate that Deletaille's recordings are distributed by CD Baby. I recommend that readers not wait to read the rest of this review, but immediately order the two available double CD sets: the Bach Cello Suites and the Beethoven Cello Sonatas. There is something profoundly correct about Deletaille's playing -- emotional intensity, virtuosity, and perfection without ever becoming either mechanical or introverted. Total concentration in the service of the music itself and the composer. You do have to be careful in these days of self-indulgent virtuosos, or even worse, those "modern" interpretations that sap all the life out of the notes in a misguided attempt at "virtuosic impartiality". None of that here -- it's just a pure pleasure to hear someone playing for the sheer joy of playing! Deletaille's Bach CD came out in 2006, and his Beethoven CD, accompanied by the excellent pianist Jean-Michel Dayez, in 2007. The Bach suites I rate with the best ever interpreters: Casals, Rostropovich, Fournier, etc. His Beethoven sonatas are exquisite, again ranking with the classic recordings by Casals/Serkin, Rostropovich/Richter, and Fournier/Gulda. The only quibble I have is that the great Fugue that concludes Sonata No. 5 (Opus 102 No. 2) is not as deliberately paced as the interpretation of Fournier/Gulda, presented in this new recording as a very different though equally correct interpretation. But Deletaille/Dayez make it work within the context of their own vision of the whole sonata. Still, I would consider this a compliment rather than a criticism to be compared to Pierre Fournier and Friedrich Gulda. Deletaille's Bach is fast-paced, but does not sound fast. Incredible virtuosity that presents the music at a speed that seems just right. Only when I compared his timings to other favorite recordings I realized that this is a great technical feat. Note that Deletaille uses a "Violoncello Piccolo" built in Belgium in 2002 for the Sixth suite -- attention to the music and the composer's intentions (which are here unclear!). Bach's Sixth suite is always a problem to perform since Bach did not write it for a normal cello. View and hear Nicolas Deletaille playing the Prelude from Bach's... posted by Michael at February 12, 2008 | perma-link | (2) comments

Prog-Rock Linkage by Barry Wood
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- I received a fun and informative email from rock fan Barry Wood the other day. It was so full of good info and resourceful linkage that I couldn't resist asking Barry if I could post it on the blog. I'm pleased that he agreed to let me. Here it is: *** Dear Michael Blowhard I’ve found a terrific way of enjoying YouTube. I’m a big fan of sixties and seventies rock music and there are a few personal websites which enthusiasts have set up to which they devote themselves to charting band history, analysing the music and rating the various albums. You have to be pretty devoted to do this but the quality of the best of it is surprisingly high. Foremost among these is George Starostin who must rank as one of the most astonishing web rock critics not just because of the superlative quality of his reviews and insights but also because he was so prolific. Sadly George stopped posting a few years back but his huge archive is still up and has a kind of cult quality among many fans, myself included. Here it is. The fun bit is in reading about the birth of some band you didn’t know about on Starostin then going over to YouTube and summonsing up archive footage. You can see a band’s entire development this way and some terrific material has come to light. The history of David Bowie on Youtube is fascinating. The earliest clip of him dates from 1964 when as a 17 year old schoolboy he appeared on the BBC complaining about being teased for having long hair. His first single at age seventeen after he changed his name from Jones to Bowie (audio only) First appearance with his first hit Space Oddity in 1970: Bowie singing "Rubber Band": Bowie mime from 1968 when he was 21: A 14 year old skiffle enthusiast from the London suburbs appears on black and white TV in the late fifties. Hard to believe that this lad grew up to be Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin: King Crimson also have a long and tortured past which Starostin documents well with the faithfulness of the true devoted fan. You can map out the King Crimson from their hippy precursor called Giles, Giles and Fripp: To their first big success in 1969 with Court of the Crimson King which can be heard here, and here. More: In 1970 came In The Wake Of Poseidon. With the big success of Larks Tongues in Aspic in 1973: The YouTube collection on them features an interview with the King Crimson leader Bob Fripp which has got to be the most unintentionally funny TV interviews ever carried out outside of Spinal Tap. It is both comedy and rock gold. It is four parts beginning here. Doesn’t get really funny till part two. Interested in Marc Bolan and T Rex.? As you might expect there is plenty of clips on this British glam... posted by Michael at February 12, 2008 | perma-link | (0) comments

Monday, February 11, 2008

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The Pew Center predicts that by 2050 ... The population of the U.S. will pass 430 million people. That's almost three times the number of people the US had when I was born. Nothing like cramming 'em in, eh? White people will be in the minority. That's a dramatic development. It might also prove to be a dangerous one. People who are fans of this kind of thing: Please tell me how many times in history ethnic upheavals on this scale have occurred with good results. A reminder: All this is unecessary. It's happening entirely because of the zany 1965 Immigration Act, and because of lax enforcement of what immigration law we do have. Unprecedented levels of crowding ... Unwanted and potentially dangerous ethnic turnabouts ... That's quite a legacy Ted Kennedy will be leaving us. No doubt he had the noblest of intentions, though. Steve Sailer asks a good question: "How is affirmative action going to work when the beneficiaries outnumber the benefactors?" The New York Times Sam Roberts takes a look at the study's numbers. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at February 11, 2008 | perma-link | (23) comments

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Popular Culture Can Be Strange
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Did you know that Leonard Nimoy once recorded "I Walk the Line"? Or that Robert Mitchum once posed for the cover of a Calypso record? (CORRECTION: Dennis Mangan tells me that Mitchum performed the record's music too.) Both discoveries thanks to the inspired art-links blog gmtPlus9(-15). Best, Michael UPDATE: Thanks to Lester Hunt, who reminds me that Robert Mitchum also created some music for his film "Thunder Road." I wrote a blog posting about "Thunder Road," a movie I liked very much, here. At his own blog, Lester asks a question about the Republicans that's on many people's minds: "Are these people totally insane?"... posted by Michael at February 10, 2008 | perma-link | (6) comments

Senators as Presidents: Oh Dear!
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Back in the late 60s and early 70s, political conventional wisdom had it that the route to the presidency was through the Senate. In recent years, that road is supposed to go through a governor's mansion. In the first case, it was assumed that foreign policy was the most important presidential task, and that was the one thing governors didn't get to deal with. Nowadays, the theory is that management is the key task; governors have to administrate, assemble budgets, deal with legislatures, and so forth. Senators only have relatively small staffs to run (and have an administrator to handle that task, in any case). Guess what? Barring an Act of God, the next president will be a former senator. What does that portend? I dunno. Nor am I sure that history is a great guide. Nevertheless, why not take a stab at it. Here are the presidents, since 100 years ago today, listed by their highest elected office, not counting Vice President -- according to John Nance Garner "Not worth a bucket of warm sh*t." Senators Harding Truman Nixon Kennedy Johhnson Governors T. Roosevelt Wilson Coolidge F.D. Roosevelt Carter Reagan Clinton G.W. Bush Congressmen Ford G.H.W. Bush No significant elective office Taft Hoover Eisenhower And who were the most consequential and/or most effective presidents from this list? Every so often surveys of historians are taken, and the results are skewed according to whether the panel has a left or right bias. Let's forget about the presidents who served since Reagan to avoid injecting any more partisan bias than necessary. So drop Clinton and the two Bushes. Most surveys that I recall place the two Roosevelts at or near the top. Reagan seems to on his way there. Truman, highly unpopular when he left office, is now generally thought of as being one of the better ones. Eisenhower also is looking stronger than originally. Kennedy is starting to slip, and may drop further once historians who loved him pass on to the Great Library Stacks in the Sky. Among righties, Coolidge seems pretty good. And lefties are still high on Wilson. So if those surveys are meaningful, governors indeed tend to do better than senators. What do you think? Later, Donald... posted by Donald at February 10, 2008 | perma-link | (9) comments